Akın, T24’s editor-in-chief, faces the charge of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” for the portal’s coverage of the Twitter account “Fuat Avni”
ÖZGÜN ÖZÇER, ISTANBUL
Doğan Akın, a founding member of P24 and the editor-in-chief of the news portal T24, appeared before a criminal court in Istanbul on 19 February 2020 for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.”
If convicted Akın may spend up to 15 years in prison over news coverage of 108 posts shared by an anonymous Twitter account that went by the name “Fuat Avni.” Believed by some to be an insider in the administration of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s cabinet, Fuat Avni had been active posting leaks and commentary about the Justice and Development Party (AKP) from 2014 to 2016.
P24 monitored the hearing, which was held at the 25th High Criminal Court of İstanbul. Delivering his defense statement during the hearing, Akın rejected the accusations leveled against him.
Akın began his defense statement by saying that he has been overseeing T24’s editorial policy ever since he founded the news portal in September 2009.
Akın pointed out that it had only been a few months since the website’s inception when on 17 February 2010, T24 became the only media outlet that published a report about the alleged criminal activities of the Fethullah Gülen network, that İlhan Cihaner, a former public prosecutor, had brought forward.
Akın reiterated that for 10 years he has been responsible for T24’s editorial policy. Akın said that T24 has had a consistent editorial policy ever since its launch.
Akın explained that T24 covered Fuat Avni’s tweets because it was a relevant topic in both mainstream media and in politics at the time.
Akın highlighted the fact that T24 did not just run stories on Fuat Avni’s posts, but also covered statements by former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and former Interior Minister Efkan Ala concerning the said Twitter account as well as investigations aiming to reveal the identity of its user(s).
Akın said the news reports had been published without commentary.
In response to the presiding judge’s question about messages sent on social media to T24 by former editors-in-chief of the shuttered newspapers Today’s Zaman and Zaman, Bülent Keneş and Abdülhamit Bilici, Akın explained that as a news portal, T24 had naturally been receiving countless e-mails and messages on social media. He said Keneş had simply congratulated the portal on a news report it had published, while Bilici had written about trustees who were appointed to Zaman, to which Akın’s response had been “within the bounds of lending professional solidarity.”
“I think journalism is being prosecuted here, I reject the allegations,” Akın said and requested to be acquitted.
Addressing the court after Akın, his lawyer Aslı Kazan said that back when she was the attorney of both Enver Arpalı’s family in the Ferhat Sarıkaya case and İlhan Cihaner, there were no media outlets besides T24 willing to report on those trials.
After the completion of statements by Akın’s lawyers, the prosecutor asked to be handed out the file for the preparation of his final opinion. Akın’s lawyers said they would not be requesting the investigation to be expanded.
Ruling to send the case file to the prosecutor for the preparation of the final opinion, the court postponed the trial until 17 April 2020. The panel is expected to issue its verdict at the end of the next hearing.